Tokaido is a relaxing 2-5 player set collection game by Antoine Bauza, author of 7 Wonders, Takenoko and Hanabi, where players collect souvenirs and discover magnificent vistas as they travel along the picturesque Japanese coastline. The Tokaido: Crossroads expansion adds even more for travellers to discover by giving them extra locations to visit and more collectables to add to their sets.
By design, Tokaido is a simple and elegant game with complex undertones which appeals to both casual and enthusiast board gamers. Following a linear path, in turn, players chose to stop at different locations like souvenir shops and hot springs, aiming to earn points by completing sets of cards. Inns are the only place all players must stop to sample the local cuisine: after all, it’s no fun journeying on an empty stomach!
So concretely, what does the Crossroads expansion add to your Tokaido experience? And more importantly, is it worth adding to your collection? Read on to find out!
Tokaido: Crossroads Explained
In the base game, each location on the board gives players a different way to score points. As well as inviting 6 new travellers on the journey, Tokaido: Crossroads adds a variety of extra actions for players to choose from on most locations on the board. Instead of their regular actions players can:
- Buy legendary items in shops that add to or enhance souvenirs collections.
- Gamble in Yakuza dice games when stopping at farms.
- Gain coins and points by collecting cherry trees instead of panoramas.
- Purchase one-time use lucky charms from temples for a range of gameplay bonuses.
- Buy calligraphy pages which grant end-game bonuses based on your collections.
- Visit luscious bathhouses for a small cost instead of hot springs.
Undoubtedly, these new variants add an extra level of complexity to an otherwise simple set of mechanics, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Calligraphy cards will help you establish strategies, while charms help optimise your turns. Cherry trees offer a way to earn game currency while scoring points, and bathhouses are a welcome and stable alternative to the slightly random points earned from hot springs. In short, each of the new actions has a purpose and address a particular type of gameplay the base game was missing.
Tokaido is already a highly replayable game. Crossroads adds to this by giving you more options, more characters and the opportunity to develop more targeted strategies and optimise your collections. This will likely delight the more avid or enthusiast players, especially those who enjoy fine-tuning their every move.
Sometimes it’s great to have more options to choose from. Don’t want to contribute any money to the temple because you are already in the lead: no problem, buy a charm instead! Already completed the mountain panorama, here, take a cherry tree! This is where the expansion shines: by giving you alternatives to actions you would otherwise ignore or waste. For experienced Tokaido players, Crossroads adds a breath of fresh air by offering a range of new tactics that will help achieve higher scores than before.
Tokaido is a simple game to pick up, explain and understand. There are no cards to read, no hands to manage, and enough scoring options for the game to be interesting without it being confusing or overly tactical. This expansion adds a layer of complexity which might not suit certain players, especially those playing with younger audiences. Crossroads adds a layer of complexity which might not suit certain players and will surely not be needed or relevant until you’ve played the base game a few times.
Also, whenever you add complexity to a game, however slight it may be, you often add some playtime to it as well. When playing with the Crossroads expansion, your games are slightly longer as a result. Players will likely take more time between moves to plan and strategise. Games don’t run excessively longer with the expansion, but the difference is still noteworthy.
Some may not like the addition of a dice mechanic or hand management to the game, but these only represent a portion of the added extras and can easily be ignored by anyone who doesn’t want to use them. However, if playing with a group of competitive players, you’ll be at a disadvantage if you choose to ignore some or all of the expansion’s new features.
Ultimately, Tokaido is a game where you are free to choose your actions, and there are no right or wrong ways to score points. It is a highly versatile game which caters to many different playstyles and allows for interesting strategies while staying relatively simple. Anyone who enjoys the base game and wants to add a pinch of spice to their ramen will welcome Tokaido: Crossroads’ extra features and mechanics. Especially those who want to add even more replayability and variety to the game.
Tokaido: Crossroads is all about optimising your choices, pairing your character with the right bonuses to achieve an even better score than you could before. Therefore, as long as all those playing are on the same page, this expansion is a great addition to the game. After all, who says sightseeing can’t be competitive?